Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection and State Police have plans to step up inspections of waste haulers, with increased funding in the year ahead.

The unannounced roadside inspections, commonly known as FracNet and TrashNet, have removed hundreds of illegally-operated waste vehicles from the roadways, including trucks operating in support of Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations.

"Pennsylvania is one of the largest importers of trash from other states and has also seen a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles hauling wastewater from Marcellus Shale drilling sites," said John Hanger, DEP secretary. "This partnership with the state police has proven to be an effective method in addressing waste hauling safety and compliance issues throughout the state, and in putting drilling operators and their contractors on notice that we expect them to comply with our laws."

During FracNet and TrashNet enforcement operations, DEP inspectors check to ensure that waste vehicles have proper signage and required authorizations, and that daily logs specifying the origin and type of waste are accurate and up-to-date. Vehicles are checked for weight and leakage, the presence of working fire extinguishers and to verify that loads are properly enclosed and secured.

State police teams check vehicle braking systems, exterior lighting and other equipment that plays a role in operational safety. They also check drivers for appropriate operator licenses.

The two agencies have signed a memorandum of understanding that provides funding to the state police from the Waste Transportation Safety Account, which is supported by fees, fines and penalties paid by the waste-hauling industry.

In the first half of 2010, roadside inspections by the state police and DEP found that more than 40 percent of the large trucks serving the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry were operating in violation of state motor carrier safety regulations.

In June, a three-day enforcement effort involving DEP, state police, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration focused on trucks hauling waste water from Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations and resulted in 250 commercial vehicles being placed out of service for various vehicle safety deficiencies.